The Encyclopedia of Medicaments


This book is a printed edition of the Pandectarum Medicinae (Encyclopedia of medicaments) by Matthaeus Sylvaticus (died circa 1342), consisting of an alphabetized list of medications (primarily of herbal origin). Sylvaticus relies on the work of Simon of Genoa (flourished end of 13th century), who provided a lexicon of Latin, Greek, and Arabic medical terms in his dictionary, Clavis Sanationis. Sylvaticus also draws upon works by Greco-Roman authorities such as Galen, Dioscorides, and Paulus Aegineta (seventh century). Among his other sources were the writings of important scientists from the Islamic world, including the Persian physicians Ibn Sīnā (known in the Latin West as Avicenna, 980–1037) and al-Rāzī (or Rhazes, circa 865–circa 925), and the Andalusian scientist Ibn Rushd (or Averroes, 1126–98). For each of the 702 entries in this work, Sylvaticus provides the Arabic and Greek name of a plant or other material and information about its medicinal properties. As in Clavis Sanationis, for each letter of the Latin alphabet there is a short introduction with notes on transliterating from the Greek and Arabic into Latin. This edition was commissioned by Ottaviano Scotto of Modena and printed in Venice in 1498 by Boneto Locatello, who appears to have printed more than 100 works for Scotto, most of them versions of important pre-modern texts. The Pandectarum Medicinae does not have illustrations, although the Locatello-Scotto edition of the Cyrurgia by Abū al-Qāsim Khalaf ibn ʻAbbās al-Zahrāwī (or Albucasis, circa 936–1013) includes what may be some of the earliest examples of woodcut illustrations embedded in a text.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Bonetus Locatellus, for Octavianus Scotus, Venice

Title in Original Language

Liber Pandectarum Medicinae


Type of Item

Physical Description

181 pages ; 30 centimeters


  • Bound with: Luminare maius, by Joannes Jacobus de Manliis. Venice: Albertinum de Lissona,1504
  • Other early printings of the Pandectarum Medicinae include those from Naples (1474), Vicenza (1480), and Venice (1480, 1492, and 1499).

Last updated: June 17, 2014